Fast Train to Clarksville: Microvast expanding Battery Manufacturing in Tennessee

Nov. 16, 2022
Microvast and GM also will kick in close to $300 million of additional investment to supply about $500 million toward construction of a new separator manufacturing plant in the U.S. that can supply a battery plant also in Clarksville

U.S.-based energy storage firm Microvast will deploy funds from a $200 million federal infrastructure grant to help expand its battery manufacturing footprint near Nashville, Tennessee.

The Department of Energy selected a partnership of Microvast and automobile giant General Motors to receive a $200 million grant. The money is first part of $2.8 billion being allocated by DOE to 20 companies nationwide from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act. 

Microvast and GM also will kick in close to $300 million to supply about $500 million toward construction of a new separator manufacturing plant in the U.S. The companies plan for the facility to make separators, which are a crucial part of lithium ion battery storage technology, will supply battery components for Microvast’s existing battery cell plant in Clarksville, Tennessee.

“This grant will enable Microvast to accelerate its plans to onshore critical battery component manufacturing processes, including mass production of our patented polyaramid separator technology,” said Dr. Wenjuan Mattis, Chief Technology Officer at Microvast.

“We expect the safety advantages of our innovative, highly thermally stable polyaramid separators to transform high-energy lithium-ion battery development and drive significant value for the industry,” she added.

A separator is an insulating film between the cathode and anode in batteries. It offers prevention of thermal runway (to reduce fire risk) while still allowing ion transfer. Microvast is making battery technology for electric vehicles, stationary battery storage markets and other applications.

The company holds patents on its wet-process technology to produce a thin polyaramid base film. The polyaramid separator offers an option to widely used polyethylene and polypropylene-based separators.

Microvast says its type of film can resist temperatures twice as hot as the melting point for the polyethylene and polypropylene types, according to reports.

The announcements for locating utility-scale energy storage and EV battery manufacturing sites in the U.S. have quickened since passage of the Biden Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure and Inflation Reduction Act legislations. Both bills collectively allocate more than $10 billion toward incentivizing clean energy investment and manufacturing domestically.

Overall, the Infrastructure Act empowered DOE to fund $7 billion toward the domestic battery supply chain.

The incentives include grants, investment tax credits and production tax credits to spur development of decarbonizing energy technologies and tighten the manufacturing and product supply chains.

Companies which lately have announced plans to build manufacturing in the U.S. include FREYR Battery, Ambient Photonics, Canoo, Cummins, ABB, LG Energy Solutions, Fluence Energy, Wallbox and First Solar, among others. 

Microvast is active in several other states, Europe and Asia. The company was founded 2006 in Houston.

Read about the C&I Energy Transition companies bringing manufacturing capacity into the U.S.

-- -- --

(Rod Walton, senior editor for EnergyTech, is a 14-year veteran of covering the energy industry both as a newspaper and trade journalist. He can be reached at [email protected]). 

Follow us on Twitter @EnergyTechNews_ and @rodwaltonelp and on LinkedIn